Sunday, June 28, 2020


Be careful what you wish for, isn't it? Looking forward is bedevilled with risk, the future never quite as cut and dried as the runes. If the past is another country, then the future should be another planet. (Why do my fingers always want to add 'or oblivion'?) This time last year I wonder how many of us were looking forward to what's happening now? But, sticking to the future forward interface, it is always to space our imaginations return, the final frontier even a bankrupting NASA can't take from our imaginations. For, if we are indeed living in interesting times, apropos the proverb/curse, surely we want even more interesting to look forward to. Or even, sometimes, less interesting.

Popular music is rammed with references to rocket filled skies, and there is often a coupling between the schlockier the band, the more garage-y the sounds, so higher still is the sky of their aspirations. I love a good old goofball thrash, always have, loving it all the more when spacesuits are donned over ripped jeans and leathers. Yes, I'm sorta thinking Ramones here, their lo-fi scuzz always a tonic. Now it may be that 3rd album, Rocket to Russia, was weapons grade over any galactic conquest, with Johnny no doubt a fan of nuking the commies, but I prefer to imagine the band sitting disconsolately awaiting blast off on a mission to Mars. (I guess Russia was the clue.....) Plus, they only ever did one overtly clairvoyant song, and that only looked forward a paltry four years. If indicative of many of our issues right about now.

Ramones: Planet Earth 1988

Not musically their finest moment, nor quite the mood I was aiming at, but, let's use that as a vantage point to vault over boring old guitars. Electronica, eh, all high-domed boffins with degrees in circuitry? Um, no, praise be, just as many grade school d.i.y. drop outs with drum machines and programmers as anywhere else. (Forgive my clumsy labelling here, no slights intended, of course I really know education and brains are no prerequisite to the making of music, nor even to each other, and brainlessness is no less common in mensa than densa.)

Apollo 440: Yo, Future

Apollo 440, above, provide a glorious old clatter, as punk a sound as anything on the early scene at CBGBs, let alone the UK year zero, the country from which they hail. One of the early adopters of this amalgam of dance music, rap and anything else lying around the streets, they started life a boggling 30 years ago. With some success, their sound was probably a template for the later hugeness of The Prodigy, who had started off as standard anarcho-squat crusty spiral tribers around the same sort of time, ahead of a cartoonish reinvention that tore the UK singles charts about. And a not so dissimilar sound. The song below less so, but showing their need also to boldly go.

Prodigy: Out of Space

But, returning to Apollo 440, whose pony had way more tricks than video-game garishness alone. Or film soundtracks, for that matter. Centred around brothers Howard and Trevor Gray, along with trusty cohort Noko, they have kept up a profile, whether producing their own music, re-mixing the music of others or just maintaining an episodic, if no less potent presence on the live and club circuit. With last studio output in 2012, I am sure I had recently spotted some live dates, since lost to coronavirus, and that I had been pencilling in. Anyhow, parallel to the clattering techno of Yo, Future, they could also produce much sleeker pieces, blending into styles reminiscent, by virtue of hindsight,  of both Air and Alabama 3.

Apollo 440: Electra Glide in Blue

So, looking forward, the future. Where is it and how much, like every show, festival and tour of 2020, is postponed to 2021? God, I'm looking forward to 2021. Or is the future still what it used to be?

Apollo 440: The Future's What It Used To Be


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